The Divorce Process
Experienced Palatine, IL Divorce Attorney
The decision to end a marriage is one of the most difficult choices you will ever make. Even when you clearly have no other option, admitting that your marriage has failed and navigating the dissolution proceedings is rarely easy. Attorney Nicholas W. Richardson is a family lawyer in Palatine, Illinois, who has been helping couples through divorce for more than 12 years. He understands that one of the most important aspects of any divorce is ensuring that his clients fully understand the process and the applicable laws. If you have questions, the Law Office of Nicholas W. Richardson, P.C., can provide the answers.
Petition for Dissolution, Response and Default Judgment
A divorce legally begins with the filing of a petition for dissolution along with a summons. The spouse who files the petition is called the petitioner. The petitioner is responsible for ensuring that his or her spouse is notified of the filing by personally serving the spouse with the summons to appear or by having it served by a professional process server. Attorney Richardson can help you find the best way to serve your spouse in a manner that is respectful, dignified and professional.
The other spouse, or respondent, is given 30 days after being served in which to provide a formal, written response to the petition. If he or she fails to respond, however, the Court may enter a default judgment granting the dissolution and finding in favor of the petitioner on virtually every point. Most respondents quickly retain legal counsel of their own, and if you have been served with a divorce summons, the Law Office of Nicholas W. Richardson can assist you in drafting a response that protects your best interests.
Under Illinois law, all divorces are granted on the grounds of irreconcilable differences. This recent change marks a departure from previous divorce grounds, which included bigamy, adultery and physical or mental cruelty. Of course, such behaviors can certainly lead to a breakdown of any marriage, but the Court will no longer require or recognize proof of fault-related actions. Instead, the divorce will be permitted to proceed upon the agreement of the parties that the marriage has irretrievably broken down. In the absence of an agreement, a six-month period in which the spouses live separate and apart will create for the Court an irrebuttable presumption of irreconcilable differences.
Other Necessary Considerations
Before the judgment of dissolution of marriage can be entered, the couple and the Court must make provisions or expressly reserve judgment regarding:
- The division of marital property and debts
- Spousal support
- Allocation of parental responsibilities (child custody) and parenting time
- Child support
Each of these matters may be resolved by an equitable agreement between you and your spouse, but if such an agreement cannot be reached, a courtroom hearing may be needed. Any concern placed at the discretion of the Court will require you or your spouse to present testimony and evidence, and the Court will enter an order as appropriate.
The Divorce Judgment
Once all matters have been addressed, separation periods completed and all proofs have been closed, the law requires the Court to enter a judgment within 60 days. An additional 30 days can be permitted upon showing of good cause. Once entered, a judgment may only be altered by appeal or through a post-decree modification.
If you are considering a divorce, contact the Law Office of Nicholas W. Richardson, P.C., today for a free initial consultation. Call 847.873.6741 for assistance with divorce in Palatine, Schaumburg and Cook and DuPage Counties.